Why is it easier to weep with others in their suffering than rejoice with them in their success? Jealousy? Insecurity? Self-importance? Disappointment with my own life? Scarcity mentality (that there's not enough "good stuff" out there for me too)? Have you found that it's much easier to find others to weep with you in your distress than rejoice with you in your success...even among your friends and loved ones?
Years ago, I was struggling with the knowledge that some individuals in my life were feeling threatened by my abilities and opportunities. Several people thought I was showing off or competing with them. But as I said to one of them, "I'm just trying to live my life, seeking to sense what God is doing in and through me."
But as a result of these shocking encounters, I felt conflicted. Do I hold back to keep others whom I care about okay? Do I try to explain myself at every turn?
Yet I knew that if I held back, I would be caring more about what others were feeling than what God was doing in my life. I could be stifling the Holy Spirit's work.
It was about that time that I came across a quote by Nelson Mandela that really set things in perspective for me. The Lord used it to set me free. Here it is:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us… And as we let our own light shine, we give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Nelson Mandela 1994 Inaugural Speech
As a result of this revelation to my soul, I could entrust others (and their reactions) to the Lord of their souls and lives and continue to serve God's purpose in my own life.
On the other side of all of this, I need to ask myself the question, "Can I be trusted with my own friends' success as well as their suffering?"
I want to be that kind of friend, don't you?
And so join me as I pray to that end,
May it ever be so, O Perfect Friend and Lover of our souls, that I share my loved ones' successes with exuberance, knowing all those good things are gifts of yours. I know their abundance doesn't mean less for me, because you are the Father of all grace and mercy and blessing.
So may I, through your indwelling Spirit, be able to...
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 15:12 ESV